RIAS Kammerchor chief conductor Justin Doyle
An appreciation of Claudio Monteverdi would be one-sided without his spiritual compositions. In the thirty years that he served as the chapel master of San Marco in Venice, his main profession was officially church musician, and in the two decades he spent at the court of Mantua, he was also responsible for good music in the surrounding churches. In comparison to the Roman Curia, his northern Italian residence offered greater freedom than other principalities. The liturgy of the church services and their artistic arrangement was not entirely subject to Papal decrees, but preserved its own style. Thus, the spirit of artistic experimentation was enhanced in the spiritual realm as well. Monteverdi’s “Vespers for the Blessed Virgin”, written in his last years in Mantua, was considered an avant-garde composition with long-lasting impact owing to its concertante elements. The composer published them together with his “In illo tempore” mass, which he kept almost ostentatiously in the “old” sanctioned style. Themes from Nicolas Gombert’s motet “In illo tempore” form its musical backbone.
The RIAS Kammerchor, who have long been an authoritative ensemble in early music throughout the world, will perform the two contrasting pieces – the extreme poles in Monteverdi’s style – in two neighbouring, but disparate locations: the mass will be played at the St. Hedwig Cathedral, the principle church of the diocese in in Berlin, and the “Vespers for the Blessed Virgin” in the Pierre Boulez Saal, the spectacular new venue in Berlin’s cultural scene.